FAQ

Is wind energy a viable resource to power my home?


How do I get started?

The answer to this question requires some homework on your part. Here is how to proceed:

 

A. Household Consumption: Check several of your household or facility electric utility bills (ideally, the bills for a one year period) for the quality of energy you use per month. This energy consumption number will be expressed in kilowatt-hours(kWh).

B. Average wind speed: Get a general idea of the average wind speed in your local area.
Here are two ways to find this information:

Online wind maps from the U.S. Dept of Energ's Wind & Hydropower Technology Program:
http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp .

Other online wind maps links are available here.

Local airports often measure and record average wind speeds. Since the care that is taken to properly site anemometers varies greatly from airport to airport, it is suggested to view the location of the airport anemometer to be certain that it is mounted at least 30' in the air (and ideally 30' above any obstructions within a 500' radius). If the anemometer is mounted lower than 30' above the ground or is obviously blocked/shadowed by nearby buildings or structures, then the measurements taken from the anemometer should not be trusted for gauging local average wind speed.


C. Convert Units:If the average wind speed you obtained from a wind map or airport is a metric number (m/s or meters per second), convert the average wind speed to mph [miles per hour] as follows: (wind speed in m/s) x 2.24 = (wind speed in mph). If you receive wind speed in "knots" (nautical miles), use the following conversion: (wind speed in knots) x 1.15 = (wind speed in mph).

D. Wind Generator Energy Production Estimates: View our Energy Estimates Graphs on the XZERES 442SR Product Page and the XZERES Skystream 3.7 Product Page. This chart shows how much energy (per month) you can expect to produce with our each of our wind turbines - the XZERES Skystream (2.4 kW) and the XZERES 442SR (10 kW) - in four different wind regimes (listed along the bottom of the graph as 8, 10, 12, 16 & 18 mph average wind speeds).

E. Compare Consumption with Production Estimates: Compare the amount of energy your household uses each month (from your utility bills) against the amount you can expect to produce with either of our wind generators.

F. Wind Generator Prices: Please contact us at or [email protected] for information about retail prices for each of our wind generators. Remember that retail prices will include the wind turbine, control electronics, a diversion load, and (for grid-connect systems) an inverter. The listed prices do not include a tower, tower foundation materials (concrete & rebar), or installation (mechanical and electrical). Because there are several variables with wind generator installations (e.g. tower style & height, soil conditions, concrete prices, local installation labor rates), it is difficult to estimate project costs without a site assessment.

G. Supplementing Wind with Solar Energy: There is a fairly large gap in production capacity between the XZERES Skystream and the XZERES 442SR, regardless of the local average wind speed. If your energy consumption needs fall somewhere between the production capacities of our two wind generators, you may find that supplementing your wind energy equipment with an array of solar panels may provide a useful solution to help you more closely match your energy consumption demands.

What resources are available to learn more about wind energy?

Solar Energy International (SEI) in Carbondale, CO, offers hands-on workshops and online courses for a variety of renewable technologies, mostly held in Carbondale, Colorado:
www.solarenergy.org

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) in Custer, WI "a nonprofit network for...renewable energy and energy efficiency" - provides renewable technologies courses, mostly held in Wisconsin:
www.the-mrea.org

The North Carolina Small Wind Initiative (SWI), associated with Appalachian State University near Boone, NC. "Making use of the unique Small Wind Research and Demonstration Faciltiy, the SWI holds workshops for all levels of interest on the 'ins-and-outs' of small-scale wind power":
www.wind.appstate.edu

The Sustainable Living Institute (SLI) in Hopland, CA, provides "hands-on workshops on renewable energy, ecological design, sustainable living practices and alternative construction techniques like strawbale, cob, and bamboo":
www.solarliving.org

Renew Wisconsin and the Small Wind Toolbox will be of assistance to anyone planning to install a wind turbine for their own use.
www.renewwisconsin.org/wind/windtoolbox.htm

Home Power Magazine - "The Hands-On Journal of Home-Made Power":
www.homepower.com

Wind Energy Basics and other educational wind-related books written by Paul Gipe:
www.wind-works.org/books/index.html

RenewableEnergyAccess.com provides a comprehensive news and information source for renewable energy:
www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Windustry is a non-profit organization working to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities by providing technical support and creating tools for analysis:
www.windustry.com

U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) website provides state-specific
news and information about renewable energy activities and partnerships:
www.eere.energy.gov/states/state_information.cfm

The National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) conducts research on renewable energy technologies:
www.nrel.gov

What is my average wind speed?

The answer to this question requires some homework on your part. Here is how to proceed:

A. Household Consumption: Check several of your household or facility electric utility bills (ideally, the bills for a one year period) for the quality of energy you use per month. This energy consumption number will be expressed in kilowatt-hours(kWh).

B. Average wind speed: Get a general idea of the average wind speed in your local area.
Here are two ways to find this information:

Online wind maps from the U.S. Dept of Energy's Wind & Hydropower Technology Program:
www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp

Other online wind maps links are available here.

Local airports often measure and record average wind speeds. Since the care that is taken to properly site anemometers varies greatly from airport to airport, it is suggested to view the location of the airport anemometer to be certain that it is mounted at least 30' in the air (and ideally 30' above any obstructions within a 500\' radius). If the anemometer is mounted lower than 30' above the ground or is obviously blocked shadowed by nearby buildings or structures, then the measurements taken from the anemometer should not be trusted for gauging local average wind speed.


C. Convert Units:If the average wind speed you obtained from a wind map or airport is a metric number (m/s or meters per second), convert the average wind speed to mph [miles per hour] as follows: (wind speed in m/s) x 2.24 = (wind speed in mph). If you receive wind speed in \"knots\" (nautical miles), use the following conversion: (wind speed in knots) x 1.15 = (wind speed in mph).

D. Wind Generator Energy Production Estimates: View our Energy Estimates Graph (link to turbine est. graphs). This chart shows how much energy (per month) you can expect to produce with our each of our wind turbines - the XZERES Skystream (2.4 kW) and the XZERES 442SR (10 kW) - in four different wind regimes (listed along the bottom of the graph as 8, 10, 12, & 14 mph average wind speeds).

E. Compare Consumption with Production Estimates: Compare the amount of energy your household uses each month (from your utility bills) against the amount you can expect to produce with either of our wind generators..

How large a turbine would I need in order to power my home or office?

The answer to this question requires some homework on your part. Here is how to proceed:

 

A. Household Consumption: Check several of your household or facility electric utility bills (ideally, the bills for a one year period) for the quality of energy you use per month. This energy consumption number will be expressed in kilowatt-hours(kWh).

B. Average wind speed: Get a general idea of the average wind speed in your local area.
Here are two ways to find this information:

Online wind maps from the U.S. Dept of Energy's Wind & Hydropower Technology Program:
www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp.

Other online wind maps links are available here.

Local airports often measure and record average wind speeds. Since the care that is taken to properly site anemometers varies greatly from airport to airport, it is suggested to view the location of the airport anemometer to be certain that it is mounted at least 30' in the air (and ideally 30' above any obstructions within a 500' radius). If the anemometer is mounted lower than 30' above the ground or is obviously blocked/shadowed by nearby buildings or structures, then the measurements taken from the anemometer should not be trusted for gauging local average wind speed.


C. Convert Units:If the average wind speed you obtained from a wind map or airport is a metric number (m/s or meters per second), convert the average wind speed to mph [miles per hour] as follows: (wind speed in m/s) x 2.24 = (wind speed in mph). If you receive wind speed in "knots" (nautical miles), use the following conversion: (wind speed in knots) x 1.15 = (wind speed in mph).

D. Wind Generator Energy Production Estimates: View our Energy Estimates Graph (link to turbine est. graphs). This chart shows how much energy (per month) you can expect to produce with our each of our wind turbines - the XZERES Skystream (2.4 kW) and the XZERES 442SR (10 kW) - in four different wind regimes (listed along the bottom of the graph as 8, 10, 12, & 14 mph average wind speeds).

E. Compare Consumption with Production Estimates: Compare the amount of energy your household uses each month (from your utility bills) against the amount you can expect to produce with either of our wind generators.

What is the difference between on grid and off grid systems?

Which type of system is best for my situation?

Here is a basic overview of the three basic types of residential wind energy systems:

A. Grid-Connect (a.k.a. Grid-Tie or Grid Intertie) Systems without Batteries: Grid-connect systems interface directly with the electric utility grid via an inverter (provided with our grid-connect wind generators). An XZERES Turbine Controller(a.k.a. grid-connect controller) rectifies the wind generator's "wild" (variable voltage & frequency) alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) and limits the maximum output voltage in order to maintain the health of the inverter. The inverter changes the DC outputted from the Voltage Clamp into AC at the required frequency (60 Hz or 50 Hz, depending upon country) and synchronizes with the utility power grid, prior to sending energy produced by the renewable energy system to the household appliances and/or to the grid.

Advantages: Grid-connect systems avoid the inherent inefficiency and vigilant maintenance requirements of batteries. Sizing a wind energy system for grid-connection is also simpler than with its battery-charging counterpart, because the utility grid can make up for mismatches between the electrical loads and the wind generator's production capability. Additionally in many states, there are production incentives for renewable energy sent to the utility grid (while relatively few states provide renewable energy incentives for off-grid production).

Disadvantages: If the utility grid shuts down, so do grid-connected renewable energy systems without battery back-up. In situations where continuous power is critical or where power outages are frequent, battery back-up equipment (see letter C below) may be advisable.



B. Battery-Charging Off-Grid Systems: Battery-charging systems feed through a charge controller and into a battery bank. This type of system is primarily used in remote locations where grid power is not available. When storing renewable energy exclusively in batteries, the renewable energy equipment and battery bank must be sized appropriately to maintain sufficient energy to match consumption and maintain battery health.

Advantages: Battery-charging systems provide their owners with energy independence. Thus, off-grid systems are unaffected by electric utility grid outages.

Disadvantages: When insufficient energy is captured by a battery-charging system, the homeowners must curb their usage to match (since there is no infinite power source, such as the utility grid, to draw upon). Conversely, when the battery bank is full and renewable energy is being produced at a rate faster than loads are being fed, the excess energy is usually "wasted" by heat dissipation (this excess energy can optionally be put to use with water-heating elements in a hot water tank). Batteries require vigilant care and maintenance to keep water and charge levels adequate. Renewable energy batteries are expensive, and failure to properly maintain them can be a very costly mistake.



C. Grid-Connect Systems with Battery Back-up: Grid-connect systems with battery back-up can be configured in several ways - with batteries filled from the utility grid or from the renewable energy system. This system functions similarly to the system described in letter A (Grid-Connect Systems without Batteries) above but continues to function via a back-up battery bank when the local utility grid experiences a power outage.

Advantages: This system combines the best traits of the other two system types. The utility grid can be utilized to fill in energy consumption gaps or over-production surpluses, and they continue to operate (on batteries) if the utility power grid experiences an outage.

Disadvantages: Since this type of system uses batteries, careful maintenance and attention to battery water and charge levels are required in order to maintain healthy batteries. Also, this is generally the most expensive of the three system types, because a more complex configuration comprised of both grid-connect and off-grid equipment is required.

How tall should my wind tower be?

Selecting an appropriate tower size can make a significant difference in energy production. In general, towers should be installed at such a height that the turbines blade's tips (in their lowest position) are 30 feet above all objects (buildings, trees, silos, hills, etc.) within a 500-foot radius. This will minimize turbulence encountered by the turbine, aiding the wind generator to run more smoothly, minimizing the stress on its components, and increasing the generator's life. Another very important consideration regarding tower height: The higher the tower, the faster the wind speed! A taller tower is the best way to increase your wind generator's performance at a given site.

What types of towers are available for mounting wind turbines?

A. Monopole Towers: Self-supporting monopole towers utilize a tapered cylindrical structure. They do not utilize guy wires. Climbing pegs may be provided optionally.

Advantages: Self-supporting monopole towers provide the smallest footprint of all wind turbine towers and sleek, attractive aesthetics. They may be made climbable - an advantage for individuals who enjoy climbing.

Disadvantages: Self-supporting monopole towers are the second (to guy-less tilt-up towers) most expensive tower type for wind turbines.



B. Self-Supporting Lattice (a.k.a. Free-Standing Truss) Towers: Self-supporting lattice towers utilize 3- or 4-legged lattice structures without guy wires.

Advantages: Self-supporting lattice towers have relatively small footprint, as there are no guy wires. They are climbable- an advantage for individuals who enjoy climbing.

Disadvantages: Self-supporting lattice towers are generally more expensive than guyed towers but less expensive than monopole or guy-less tilt-up towers. They require a crane for tower and turbine installation; likewise, a crane is required for removing the wind turbine, in the event that this becomes necessary.

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